deletedMar 26, 2023·edited Mar 26, 2023
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Thank you for posting these!

I wonder if there is a way to submit a chapter for review? Would love some insight.


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These notes are so so so good.

Congrats on the story, too. Giving this all another read once I'm back at my laptop.

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“If you’re going in the neck or the groin, you’re getting too old for heroin”

This is such a great story, Katy! The way you effortlessly flow through the narrator’s body of knowledge is really well done. The buzzer and the repetition and the initials all come together and give the story a good rhythm, which makes it easier to appreciate all the subtle things you do.

I think stepping on the naloxone in the way Chuck suggested will really underscore that it isn’t used at the end. Leave the reader truly gut punched! Thanks for sharing it.

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I have really enjoyed these, thank you for doing them. I find them annoying, just a little bit, because you advance certain styles and techniques consistently and religiously. But it is immensely valuable because it is a particular perspective that forces the author (and us as readers) to *choose*. I don’t always agree with the recommendations or corrections that you make, but they always force me to think very hard about what I value and why. Which is really all you can ask from a critique.

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Wow, what an incredible story. Katy, I thought your name looked familiar, so I looked further in your Substack and saw that you also wrote Cradleland -- another one of my favorite Gloves Off stories. Consider me a fan. You're an extremely talented and engaging writer. I can't wait to see what you do next.

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Before I read this Gloves Off, here's a story. A few days ago, I found this video of a mom driving in her car. She had been crying because her son was missing for a few days. So she calls her son's phone again and someone picks up. A lady said, "I'm from the medical examiner's office." The mom responds with, "Medical examiner? Is my son dead?"

Lady on the phone says, "Are you alone?"

The mom says, "My husband is here." And she shouts, "Is my son dead?"

The medical examiner says, "Can you pull over if you're driving?"

So they pull over and she asks if her son is dead. And she says yes. And the mom just breaks down in screams.

The reason why I'm sharing is because I caught myself thinking, that is a great example of how to maintain tension with evasive questions.

I don't know why my mind went there, totally bypassing this woman's pain. You've cemented the importance of tension in my mind so well, I'm in awe when I see examples in the wild.

Thank you, Chuck!

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The story notes/comments are such a help and eye opener to the work of writing. Thanks Chuck! And thanks to all those who put their work up to the test

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There's no slang for naloxone, not even in prisons.

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Thank you very much for this, Chuck. Extremely helpful to see where to unpack and burn the language when I do a second draft. Also to look carefully at choice of words and gestures e.g. plywood, hand out as the reader will be looking back for these and a pay-off. My takeaway is not being afraid to slow down when building tension. Very much appreciated and thank you for reading!

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I think the nines refers to 999 (the brit version of 911.) May be wrong tho!

This was a terrific story. Thanks, Katy!

Chuck, would you consider doing a gloves off for a short story written by a traditionally published author?

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Hi Katy! Glad to see your story on Gloves Off!

This story has such good authority. Your narrator clearly knows what they're talking about, and it makes me forget I'm reading, and instead, puts me inside the story. And good job keeping the camera pointed away from the narrator. This is something I've been practicing, and it takes real attention!

This line made me think the narrator had gone into this job to find her missing family member. This is where I really felt the tension: "Did you have a child? A boy? Looked a bit like me if I grew out my hair and wore a Spiderman t-shirt and just a nappy even though I was old enough for school?"

The practicing on oranges is an interesting visual, plus, an orange has smell and texture! Speaking of smell, I like how you associate the smell of citrus with Christmas and Mama. I was hoping that something would be related here to what the narrator is taking part in, and then you gave me this: "She's my mother. Do you know her?" Excellent work.

I love this line: "She weighs as much as a wet cat and smells like a dead one..."

Nice work with the maggots.

And I love this: "If you want to know what an ulcer smells like, switch off your fridge. Leave the food in there and go away for the summer. When you come home, turn on the heating and open the fridge."

Great story, Katy! Thank you for sharing.

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I really enjoyed reading this. The first time I read it I loved how much authority it builds around the narrator. It was just as great this time around.

RE: “My Comments: If might be too cute or too pat, but would you consider the rescuer getting slugged in the nuts? That would cement the idea that he’d revived her with the injection. Your call.”

Maybe it wouldn’t be too cute if the rescuer got punched in the nuts first, then the earlier line was brought in. I dunno, just a thought.

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Super outstanding story, Katy! It all feels so ‘lived’, did you have a job in this (oh boy) vein?

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Amazing piece

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Thanks for sharing Katy.

Chuck I’m wondering if deciding to paraphrase dialogue or not is about speeding up vs slowing down a scene?

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